Even Younger People Should Think About This to Safeguard Their Hearing

Young woman not protecting her hearing in a loud subway.

An estimated 50% of people 75 or over have some form of hearing loss and that’s why most people consider it a problem for older people. But research reveals that younger individuals are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they’re losing their hearing despite the fact that it’s completely preventable.

One study of 479 freshmen across three high schools found that 34% of those students showed indications of hearing loss. The cause? Researchers suspect that earbuds and headphones connected to mobile devices are contributing to the issue. And everyone’s at risk.

Why do individuals under 60 experience hearing loss?

If others can hear your music, it’s too loud and that’s a basic rule for teenagers and everyone. If you listen to sounds louder than 85dB (around the volume of a vacuum cleaner) for extended periods of time, your hearing can be damaged. A standard mobile device with the volume turned all the way up is about 106 decibels. In this scenario, damage starts to take place in under 4 minutes.

While this seems like common sense stuff, the reality is that kids spend upwards of two hours every day on their devices, frequently with their earphones or earbuds in. During this time, they’re enjoying music, playing games, and watching video. And this will only increase over the next several years, if we’re to believe current research. The production of dopamine acts in a similar way to addictive drugs and studies have demonstrated that smartphones and other screens can trigger dopamine release. Kids’ hearing will suffer as it becomes harder to get them to put their screens down.

Young people are at risk of hearing loss

Clearly, hearing loss presents numerous difficulties for anybody, regardless of age. For younger individuals though, after school activities, sports, and job prospects produce additional difficulties. Students with hearing loss face a particularly difficult time hearing and understanding concepts. Sports become especially challenging if you can’t hear coaches and teammates calling plays and giving instructions. Early hearing loss can have a detrimental effect on confidence as well, which puts unwanted roadblocks in the way of teenagers and young adults who are entering the workforce.

Social issues can also continue due to hearing loss. Kids often develop emotional and social problems which can require therapy if they have hearing loss. Individuals who suffer with hearing loss often feel isolated and experience mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Managing hearing loss often needs to go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, particularly during the important developmental stages experienced by kids and teenagers.

Preventing hearing loss when you’re young

The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 60 minutes a day at 60% or less of the highest volume. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the sound while sitting near them, you should have them turn it down until you can no longer hear it.

It also might be smart to change back to over-the-ear style headphones and quit using earbuds. In comparison to traditional headphones, earbuds put inside of the ear canal can actually create 5 to 10 extra decibels.

Whatever you can do to minimize your child’s exposure to loud sounds throughout the day will be helpful. You can’t regulate everything they do during school or on the bus, so try to make the time they’re at home free of headphones. And if you do believe your child is dealing with hearing loss, you should have them examined as soon as possible.



The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.